Image of a remote worker

Today there are more opportunities to work from home than ever before. And although there are still some organizations like IBM calling remote workers back to the office, many companies no longer fear if their employees work remotely.

With more and more companies embracing the virtual workspace, there are any entirely new set of challenges for employees who choose to work from home.

Dan Marzullo, Zenefits

Employees who work from home tend to work continuously–not just regular work hours. And communication tends to lean predominantly toward emails, conference calls, and instant messaging.

This type of non-stop communication limits the amount of traditional meetings and face-to-face interactions jamming calendars and business hours. This can add stress and lead to other mental health issues.

A recent study found that 62% of people said the benefits of technology had both positive and negative impacts on their life. And remote work is no exception.

Of course there are many benefits from working from home, but many bad habits can form as well. When at home, it can be easy to underestimate the negative efforts of your actions, especially without having the accountability of others.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to ensure remote workers get the most out of their workday without getting burned out or stressed.

Set Up a Work Space

Setting up a specific space dedicated to only working is an imperative first step toward productivity. Since remote work can be done literally anywhere with decent wifi, it can be tempting to take your laptop with you everywhere. However, this contributes to anxiety, sleeplessness, and the inability to leave work. Find a place that is easily accessible for you remote “office.”

Find Time to be Outside

To get to work, one would walk to their car, walk to the office from their car, walk down the hallway and maybe possibly leave the office to eat off-campus. These small portions of the day gets the blood circulating and the skin exposed to some sun.

When working from home, one only needs to walk 10 feet from their bedroom. Spending the majority of the day inside and sitting goes unnoticed. Setting a timer to remind you to get outside and be around fresh air will help boost your energy and benefit you long term.

Create a Daily Schedule

Easy and simple mistakes can occur when a daily schedule isn’t made. When working from home, the temptation to do laundry, clean, cook dinner heightens, and things can fall through the cracks. Distractions hinder excellence.

On the flip side, work can overload your schedule, making it impossible to maintain your household. It is easy to put your customers results first, without thinking about family. Make sure to have a start time, breaks, and end time in your daily schedule.

Put Lunch on Your Calendar

Working remotely involves understanding working across timezones. As a result, some colleagues might schedule meetings and conference calls during your lunch hour. The temptation to eat lunch at your desk or skipping it altogether is a bad habit to form.

Make sure to put your lunch hour on the calendar for the company to see to ensure that you have that break. Remember our earlier point, your workspace is only for work. So eat your lunch or take your lunch break away from the desk. Keeping eating and work separate forms a great habit that will not only benefits mental health but physical health as well.

Schedule Time Away from Home

Working remotely can leave you isolated and away from other people. I know this lesson all too well in my 4 years working remotely from home. And if you work from home, you can spend the entire week never leaving the house.

Scheduling time away from home will get you around people and out of the house. Scheduling even just one day a week to work at a local coffee shop, library, or co-working space will give you the human interaction lacking when working virtually.

Manage Housework Before and After Work Hours

Since you are home, it is easy to want to work on household chores during your work day. Your laundry room is only down the hall. The dishes is just a few minutes of work. But the household chores add up, leaving you working after hours and creeping into your daily schedule.   

Remeber to Walk Around

When working in a traditional office, getting up to make copies, talking to other employees, and going to the break room keep you on your toes. Even walking to and from the car gets the blood pumping. Walking benefits more than just health. It refreshes the mind, energizes the body, and gives you time to think creatively.

The best way is to schedule a 15 minute walk twice a day–once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Another great trick, set an alarm to go off every hour, reminding you to get up and walk around the house for a bit. Maybe grab a bottle of water, a light snack, the mail.

Forming good habits when working from home is imperative to keeping you productive, healthy, and not burned out.

Incorporating these healthy habits will help you work in the best environment with the best mindset. And if as remote workers we practice sustainable work, it makes it better for all of us in the long run.

What have you done to make remote work more productive?